Tuesday, March 31, 2020

One Man's Maple Moon: Robin Tanka by Brian Zimmer

English Original

a robin
continues calling
undeterred
spring bubbles-up
through broken ice

Skylark, 1:2, Winter 2013

Brian Zimmer 


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

一隻知更鳥
不斷地叫喚
未受阻擾
通過碎冰間的缺口
春天逐漸地浮現

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

一只知更鸟
不断地叫唤
未受阻扰
通过碎冰间的缺口
春天逐渐地浮现


Bio Sketch

Brian Zimmer wrote from the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. His work had appeared in various international print and online journals. He took inspiration from a variety of sources, including the ancient Japanese poetic-diary (utanikki) and free-form, poetic "essay" (zuihitsu).

Monday, March 30, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Neo-Natal Ward Haiku by Deborah P Kolodji

English Original

heart monitors
in the neo-natal ward
early plum blossoms

The Heron’s Nest, 20:1, March 2018

Deborah P Kolodji


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

新生兒病房中
的心臟監護器
早開花的梅花

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

新生儿病房中
的心脏监护器
早开花的梅花 


Bio Sketch

Deborah P Kolodji is the California Regional Coordinator for the Haiku Society of America and moderates the Southern California Haiku Study Group. Her first full length book of haiku, highway of sleeping towns, is available from Shabda Press.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Poetic Musings: A Home Away from Home by Chen-ou Liu

where the sky
meets the winter desert ...
refugee tents

Arzu walks out of the tent to meet her friends, waiting in line with hundreds of others for water distribution. A wisp of cloud drifts by. It reminds her of the camp teacher's departing words, "Those puffy, sheep-like clouds you're looking at come from Syria. You will all return home one day, I promise."

Honorable Mention, 2015 United Haiku and Tanka Society Samurai Haibun Contest

Chen-ou Liu

Judge's Commentary: Amidst unceasing news of overwhelming number of people fleeing the conflict-torn regions in the Middle East, Chen-ou Liu’s Honorable Mention haibun is both timely and compassionate in his presentation of a young girl’s plight. The poet’s imagery of a ‘wisp of cloud’ is laden with significance. It evokes poignantly the fragility of Arzu’s hope for a safe return to her native land and also works as a ‘beacon’ of light in the otherwise drab and desperate tents-filled camp. What I find particularly powerful is how Chen-ou turns on its head, the largely negative media representations of how refugees threaten the civilizations of the host countries in which they seek asylum. There is quiet dignity in both Arzu and her teacher who holds out the promise of a return to their homeland.

Butterfly Dream: Churchyard Lichen Haiku by Martha Magenta

English Original

churchyard lichen
the living and dead
in symbiosis

Editor's Choice, Cattails, October 2017

Martha Magenta


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

教堂墓地青苔
生者與死者
共處一地

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

教堂墓地青苔
生者与死者
共处一地 


Bio Sketch

Martha Magenta lived in England, UK. Her haiku and tanka had appeared in a number of journals, and anthologies. She was awarded Honourable Mentions for her haiku in The Fifth Annual Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku  Awards, 2017, and in the 71st Basho Memorial English Haiku Contest, 2017, and for her tanka in UHTS  “Fleeting Words” Tanka Contest 2017.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

One Man's Maple Moon: Struggle Tanka by H. Gene Murtha

English Original

this year's harvest
will be another struggle
at the kitchen table
i leave an extra kernel
for the household mouse

Skylark, 1:2, Winter 2013

H. Gene Murtha 


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

今年的收成
將會是另一場掙扎
在廚房的桌子上
我留下額外的一個果核
給家裡的老鼠吃

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

今年的收成
将会是另一场挣扎
在厨房的桌子上
我留下额外的一个果核
给家里的老鼠吃 


Bio Sketch

H. Gene Murtha, a naturalist and poet, sponsored and judged the first haiku contest for the inner city children of Camden, NJ., for the Virgilio Group, of which he was a lifetime member. He was widely published for his work in haikai literature from the USA to Japan.

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Room of My Own: CovidiotInChief Haiku

14th Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary: "Laughing" in the Face of Adversity
written in response to "No Canadian" Trending on Twitter

CovidiotInChief: plan to send troops along the US— ——— —— .... Canada border


Added: 15th Entry: a profile of Covidiots with guns

100 more
coronavirus deaths --

the lineup curls
around the parking lot
of a gun megastore

Note: CovidiotInChief's fanciful covid19 plan reminds me of my "Trump's inauguration tanka:"

first chilly night
after the inauguration
in my dream
a gray wall between USA
and Canada

Atlas Poetica, 29, 2017

Thursday, March 26, 2020

One Man's Maple Moon: Neighbourhhood Dogs Tanka by Susan Mary Wade

English Original

snarls and yelps
of neighbourhood dogs
my inner child
admonishing
my shadow self

Gusts, 28, Fall/Winter 2018

Susan Mary Wade


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

一群鄰居的狗
咆哮和大聲喊叫
我的內心孩子
告誡
我的陰影自我

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

一群邻居的狗
咆哮和大声喊叫
我的内心孩子
告诫
我的阴影自我


Bio Sketch

Susan Mary Wade's tanka have appeared in The Tanka Journal, International Tanka, Gusts, Ribbons, Moonbathing and Frameless Sky. Her work has been anthologised and she has received an award from The International Tanka Competition in Japan on three occasions.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Town Dump Haiku by George Swede

English Original

town dump
i find a still-
beating heart

micro haiku: three to nine syllables, 2014

George Swede


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

小鎮垃圾場
我找到一顆仍然-
跳動的心

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

小镇垃圾场
我找到一颗仍然-
跳动的心


Bio Sketch

George Swede's most recent collections of haiku are Almost Unseen (Decatur, IL: Brooks Books, 2000), Joy In Me Still (Edmonton: Inkling Press, 2010) and micro haiku: three to nine syllables (Inspress, 2014). He is a former editor of Frogpond: Journal of the Haiku Society of America (2008-2012) and a former Honorary Curator of the American Haiku Archives (2008-2009).

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Poet's Roving Thoughts: Review of This Short Life by Jenny Ward Angyal

(First published in Skylark, 3:1, Summer 2015 and reprinted here by kind permission from NeverEnding Story contributor, Jenny Ward Angyal)


Serving Sadness at the Waffle Shop
A Review of This Short Life: Minimalist Tanka by Sanford Goldstein

Keibooks, Perryville, MD, 2014, 164 pages, perfect bound paperback, 6 x 9, afterword by M. Kei. ISBN 978-1494845599. $15.00.

“A poet is by the very nature of things a man who lives with entire sincerity . . . “

 —W. B. Yeats

Decades ago, Sanford Goldstein, often considered a founding father of English-language tanka, expressed the wish that “my own single line will spring fully armed from the head of Zeus.” (Gaijin Aesthetics, 1983.) The image seems akin to his definition of “minimalism” in the introduction to his latest book, This Short Life: Minimalist Tanka, which he has published at the age of 88. Many poems in this volume are quite brief— as few as nine syllables— but others range up to at least 28. When he calls his tanka “minimalist,” Goldstein is not referring to the number of words or syllables— he has always been more concerned with content than with counting. Instead, he observes that “concentration is limited,” and that when we are preoccupied with counting syllables or adjusting line lengths, “something happen[s] to the original feeling we had.”

No, minimalism is a state of mind. Something appears in the mind and before one realizes it the poem has been formed. Of course it may be revised or rewritten at times, but the core of the image remains. And I think spontaneity is the major clue.

Thus by “minimalist tanka,” Goldstein means tanka that spring fully armed from the head of the poet, uncontrived and unvarnished; direct, genuine expressions of the poet’s lived experience. He credits Takuboku with teaching him that “tanka are a diary of the emotional changes in a poet’s life” (This Penny World, 2005), and he has long endeavored to express that emotional life in the simplest possible language. In This Tanka World (1977), he wrote that when a colleague “calls my language commonplace, the poems capable of being written by anyone, I regard this as lovely praise.” Well— “anyone” may be capable of jotting diary entries in five lines, but few writers can sustain across decades the honesty, clarity and reflective depth of Goldstein’s poems. His latest book is no exception.

not just
mere
winter description
oh, a minimalist depth
is what I want

... and depth is what he often achieves. The poems in This Short Life— over 350 of them— were drawn from Goldstein’s yearly tanka notebook for 2008, suggesting that he wrote on average one poem a day, every day. Naturally not every tanka in the collection attains equal “depth,” but Goldstein’s willingness to keep his tanka-mind alert, and to spill directly into tanka-form the little things of daily life that most of us ignore— this willingness often allows him to capture the profound hidden in the mundane. Cumulatively, the poems present the candid and multi-faceted record of a life lived in keen awareness of each passing moment.

the wind
might as well take
these five lines down,
so fleeting,
the infinitesimal fraction of now

Anyone who has been alive and awake for a quarter of Goldstein’s years will have noticed that even the happiest of lives is tinged with sadness. Spilling his tanka in coffee shops, Goldstein captures again and again the bittersweet flavor that makes us treasure every moment, every poem.

startled
to find chocolate
with my coffee,
and the waitress
fills my cup again

Such a simple observation, but so much is left unsaid about loneliness, about kindness, about connection. Human loneliness and its compensations are threads that run throughout the nine loosely thematic sections of the book, the first of which is called “Kids.”

my son heaps
bowl on bowl
with rice,
head down
he devours the world

how short
my son’s
miss you,
at the close of
today’s letter

Any parent can identify with these two brief, simple poems, which together poignantly express the perennial tension between wanting to send our children forth to “devour the world” and wanting to hold them close.

my kid
carrying it
home,
her lopsided
heart

Here a concrete description of a young child’s artwork, perhaps a proud offering for Valentine’s Day, is transmuted into a metaphor for the whole human condition— which of us does not carry a “lopsided heart”?

The thread of loneliness continues through the following section, ironically entitled “Minimalist Sexuality.”

something
in this April light
tells me
this celibacy
will last and last

Goldstein’s honesty about himself is blunt and unsparing:

I spit
on tonight’s lonely
maneuver,
I floss,
I scribble poems

Loneliness and its compensations: Goldstein does not hesitate to write about writing, a topic many poets avoid. But for this poet, tanka is not a game, a hobby, or an art pursued for its own sake. It is a lifeline and he explores its limitations and its power.

cramming
a fall universe
into five lines down,
pen in hand,
the seaside bench hard

I want to push
these lines out,
out,
out into this October light
to the very edge!

To cram a universe into five lines, to push to the very edge of what the form can do, the poet must be willing to spill thousands of tanka. Those of us among his readers who also attempt to write— those of us who tend to think “Oh, I already wrote about that,” and then stop— we might learn something from Goldstein’s willingness to return to the same themes, the same images, even the same words, in multiple poems. In the section entitled “Death,” for instance, he gives us these two poignant poems:

sudden
as rain,
as desire,
I see her
cloth-covered face

that white cloth
covering her face
again remembered,
tonight
sixteen years

... which beautifully capture the way in which grief resurges when we least expect it, even after many years. On neighboring pages Goldstein offers two more poems that use the image of “her cloth-covered face,” two others that mention “sixteen years,” and two more that speak of the death of “that young bride.” It is as if he holds an experience up to the light and examines its every facet, trying again and again to grasp its essence and to express the inexpressible. The many similar poems resonate against each other, ringing the experience into the depths of the reader’s memory as it rings in the poet’s— and keeping alive “chains of connection:”

almost broken,
broken,
chains of connection,
some having died,
some corridor silent

Goldstein also shares his acute perception of what other mysteries may lie hidden under a white cloth:

sudden
as if from behind
a magician’s cloth
winter’s
radiant snow

Living with nerve endings equally exposed to sorrow and to beauty, Goldstein is denied the consolations of conventional religious faith. Among his most resonant attempts to cram the paradoxical universe into five lines occur in the section called “Zen, God, Faith, Doubt.”

today
I picked up
and dropped them off,
so many bundles
of religious regret

He is unable to find “heavenly belief” in either the Judaism of his own background or in the Zen of his adopted country, Japan. And yet . . .

how neat
the straw slippers
at the Zen meeting,
they speak
the wordless

... just as the poet himself attempts to “speak the wordless” in poems that employ the bare minimum of words. The power of that bare-bones approach to poetry— to life— is reflected in the section entitled “Cleanliness, Whiteness, Purity.”

to clean
even a closet,
a bedroom floor,
this October light
steadies me

my colleague
invites me in
for tea,
wordless,
we lift the white bowls

In the simplicity of a life scrubbed down to the essence, fewer and fewer words are needed to forge “chains of connection

It is thought-provoking that the poet chose to include the following poignant poem in the section “Cleanliness, Whiteness, Purity,” rather than in “Food, Drinks,” or “Kids:”

I want
to tip
my daughter,
she serves sadness
at the waffle shop

Aware that sticky sweetness cannot nourish us, Goldstein offers instead the purifying flame of existential sadness.

put
my sad now
out to dry,
how white
this April sky-light

In his introduction to This Short Life, Goldstein writes “I offer these [poems] to my readers in what may perhaps be my last book, though I said that about my previous book . . . [and] here I am again . . . “

it’s useless
I know
and still, still,
these five
lines down

eighty-eight
is close enough
for death,
and still, still,
a few people say stay

Readers of This Short Life will surely echo those “few people” who say “stay”— and, despite the poet’s modesty, readers can assure Sanford Goldstein that his life-long practice of deep and honest exploration of his life through tanka is far from useless.

(Editor's Note: for more information about minimalist tanka and haiku, see "Cool Announcement: A New Release, micro haiku: three to nine syllables by George Swede" and "To the Lighthouse: Minimalist Tanka, not a word missing, not a word to be added")

Monday, March 23, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Unexpected Pregnancy Haiku by Fay Aoyagi

English Original

unexpected pregnancy
she spits out
watermelon seeds

Chrysanthemum Love, 2003

Fay Aoyagi


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

意外懷孕
她用力吐出
西瓜種子

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

意外怀孕
她用力吐出
西瓜种子


Bio Sketch

Fay Aoyagi (青柳飛)was born in Tokyo and immigrated to the U.S. in 1982. She is currently a member of Haiku Society of America and Haiku Poets of Northern California. She serves as an associate editor of The Heron's Nest.  She also writes in Japanese and belongs to two Japanese haiku groups; Ten'I (天為) and "Aki"(秋), and  she is a member of Haijin Kyokai (俳人協会).

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A Room of My Own: Ten Full Pages Tanka

Eleventh Entry (Bergamo,  Lombardy, Italy), Coronavirus Poetry Diary

the cathedral
silhouetted against gray sky
an old man
reads through ten full pages
of obituaries

Added:  Twelfth Entry (Siena, Central Italy):

moonlight
floods empty alleys ...
one Italian
singing to another
on Juliet balconies

Note:  The following poem is the tenth entry (Oshawa, ON, Canada):

nursing home silhouette
I air high-five my old friend
at the window

PoemHunter, March 21 2020 

Added: Thirteenth Entry

this endless gray
seen from my attic window
shelter in place

PoemHunter, March 25 2020

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Singing Haiku by Djurdja Vukelic Rozic

English Original

singing from balconies
no one is a stranger
just for a while

Djurdja Vukelic Rozic


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

站在陽台唱歌
只是短暫一會兒沒有人
是陌生人

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

站在阳台唱歌
只是短暂一会儿没有人
是陌生人


Bio Sketch

Djurdja Vukelic Rozic was born in 1956, lives in the town of Ivanic Grad, Croatia, edits the magazine IRIS, translates and writes poetry, humorous sketches, short stories, haiku and haibun. So far she has published twenty books and translated a number of collections and anthologies into English. And her poetry has received thirty awards.

Butterfly Dream: Coronavirus Haiku by Pravat Kumar Padhy

English Original

coronavirus ...
even the shadows
drift away

Pravat Kumar Padhy


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

新冠狀病毒 ...
甚至陰影
都漸行漸遠

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

新冠状病毒 ...
甚至阴影
都渐行渐远


Bio Sketch

Pravat Kumar Padhy hails from Odisha, India. He holds Masters in Science and Technology and a Ph.D from IIT- Dhanbad. His literary work cited in Spectrum History of Indian Literature in English, Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Poetry, Cultural and Philosophical Reflections in Indian Poetry in English, etc. His Japanese short forms of poetry appeared in various international journals and anthologies. His tanka, ‘I mingle’ is featured in the “Kudo Resource Guide”, Cal Performances, University of California, Berkeley, 2014/2015 Season.His haiku won Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Honourable Mention Award, Canada, UNESCO International Year of Water Co-operation, The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Contest, Creatrix Haiku Commendation Award, IAFOR Vladimir Devide Haiku Award and 7th Setouchi Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Award. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

One Man's Maple Moon: Last Poppy Tanka by Kirsten Cliff Elliot

English Original

dreading
the call that says
he’s gone ...
two petals left
on the last poppy

A Hundred Gourds, 3:3, June 2014

Kirsten Cliff Elliot


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

感到恐懼
那通電話會告知
他去世了 ...
最後一朵的罌粟花
只剩下兩朵花瓣

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

感到恐惧
那通电话会告知
他去世了 ...
最后一朵的罂粟花
只剩下两朵花瓣


Bio Sketch

Kirsten Cliff Elliot is a New Zealand poet and writer. She works in a high school library and is studying towards a BA in Information and Library Studies. Together with her husband, she blogs at Help! My husband has Asperger’s: Our life on the spectrum’s edge.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Pain Haiku by Jan Benson

English Original

spring snow-melt
forgetting where
the pain is buried

FemKuMag, July 2018

Jan Benson


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

春季融雪
忘記掩埋痛苦
的地方

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

春季融雪
忘记掩埋痛苦
的地方


Bio Sketch

Jan Benson was a Pushcart Prize nominated haiku poet. Her haiku were published in many of the world's leading haiku journals and magazines. Jan was a member of The World Haiku Association and Poetry Society of Texas. Jan's profile can be found on The Haiku Foundation "Poet Registry" and online at The Living Haiku Anthology.